Batting average (baseball)

In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and read without the decimal: A player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken beyond the .001 measurement. In this context, a .001 is considered a "point," such that a .235 batter is 5 points higher than a .230 batter.

Reggie Jackson bats at Yankee Stadium
Reggie Jackson batting at Yankee Stadium in 1979; Jackson batted .297 that season.


Henry Chadwick, an English statistician raised on cricket, was an influential figure in the early history of baseball.[1] In the late 19th century he adapted the concept behind the cricket batting average to devise a similar statistic for baseball. Rather than simply copy cricket's formulation of runs scored divided by outs, he realized that hits divided by at bats would provide a better measure of individual batting ability. This is because while in cricket, scoring runs is almost entirely dependent on one's own batting skill, in baseball it is largely dependent on having other good hitters on one's team. Chadwick noted that hits are independent of teammates' skills, so used this as the basis for the baseball batting average. His reason for using at bats rather than outs is less obvious, but it leads to the intuitive idea of the batting average being a percentage reflecting how often a batter gets on base, whereas hits divided by outs is not as simple to interpret in real terms.


1939 Ted Williams
Ted Williams is the most recent MLB player to hit .400 or better in a season (1941).
Ty Cobb 1916-restore.jpeg
Ty Cobb has the highest MLB career batting average (.366).

In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last Major League Baseball (MLB) player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941.[2] Since 1941, the highest single-season average has been .394 by Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres in 1994.[2] There have been numerous attempts to explain the disappearance of the .400 hitter, with one of the more rigorous discussions of this question appearing in Stephen Jay Gould's 1996 book Full House.

Ty Cobb holds the record for highest career batting average with .366, eight points higher than Rogers Hornsby who has the second-highest career average at .358.[3] The record for lowest career batting average for a player with more than 2,500 at-bats belongs to Bill Bergen, a catcher who played from 1901 to 1911 and recorded a .170 average in 3,028 career at-bats.[4] Hugh Duffy, who played from 1888 to 1906, is credited with the highest single-season batting average, having hit .440 in 1894.[5] The modern-era (post-1900) record for highest batting average for a season is held by Nap Lajoie, who hit .426 in 1901,[5] the first year of play for the American League. The modern-era record for lowest batting average for a player that qualified for the batting title is held by Chris Davis, who hit .168 in 2018.[6] While finishing six plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting title, Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox hit .159 for the 2011 season, nine points lower than the record.[7] The highest batting average for a rookie was .408 in 1911 by Shoeless Joe Jackson.[8]

The league batting average in MLB for the 2018 season was .248, with the highest modern-era MLB average being .296 in 1930, and the lowest being .237 in 1968.[9] For non-pitchers, a batting average below .230 is often considered poor, and one below .200 is usually unacceptable. This latter level is sometimes referred to as "The Mendoza Line", named for Mario Mendoza (a lifetime .215 hitter), a stellar defensive shortstop whose defensive capabilities just barely made up for his offensive shortcomings.[10]

Sabermetrics, the study of baseball statistics, considers batting average a weak measure of performance because it does not correlate as well as other measures to runs scored, thereby causing it to have little predictive value. Batting average does not take into account bases on balls (walks) or power, whereas other statistics such as on-base percentage and slugging percentage have been specifically designed to measure such concepts. Adding these statistics together form a player's on-base plus slugging or "OPS". This is commonly seen as a much better, though not perfect, indicator of a player's overall batting ability as it is a measure of hitting for average, hitting for power and drawing walks.


In 1887, bases on balls were counted as hits by the major leagues in existence at the time. This inflated batting averages, with 11 players batting .400 or better, and the experiment was abandoned the following season. Historical statistics for the season were later revised, such that "Bases on balls shall always be treated as neither a time at bat nor a hit for the batter."[11]

In rare instances, MLB players have concluded their careers with a perfect batting average of 1.000. John Paciorek had three hits in all three of his turns at bat.[12] Esteban Yan went two-for-two, including a home run. Hal Deviney's two hits in his only plate appearances included a triple, while Steve Biras, Mike Hopkins, Chet Kehn, Jason Roach and Fred Schemanske also went two-for-two. A few dozen others have hit safely in their one and only career at-bat.

Qualifications for the batting title

The MLB batting averages championships (often referred to as "the batting title") are awarded annually to the player in each league who has the highest batting average. Ty Cobb holds the MLB and American League (AL) record for most batting titles, officially winning 11 in his career.[13] The National League (NL) record of eight batting titles is shared by Honus Wagner and Tony Gwynn. Most of Cobb's career and all of Wagner's career took place in what is known as the Dead-Ball Era, which was characterized by higher batting averages and much less power, whereas Gwynn's career took place in the Live-Ball Era.

To determine which players are eligible to win the batting title, the following conditions have been used over the sport's history:[14]

  • Pre-1920 – A player generally is required to appear in at least 100 or more games when the schedule was 154 games, and 90 games when the schedule was 140 games. An exception to the rule was made for Ty Cobb in 1914, who appeared in 98 games but had a big lead and was also a favorite of American League President Ban Johnson.
  • 1920–1949 – A player had to appear in 100 games to qualify in the NL; the AL used 100 games from 1920 to 1935, and 400 at-bats from 1936 to 1949. The NL was advised to adopt 400 at-bats for the 1945 season, but National League President Ford Frick refused, feeling that 100 games should stand for the benefit of catchers and injured players. (Taffy Wright is often erroneously said to have been cheated out of the 1938 batting title; he batted .350 in exactly 100 games, with 263 ABs. Jimmie Foxx hit .349, in 149 games and 565 AB. But since the AL requirement that year was 400 at-bats, Foxx's batting title is undisputed.)
  • 1950–1956 – A player needed 2.6 at-bats per team game originally scheduled. (With the 154-game schedule of the time, that meant a rounded-off 400 at-bats.) From 1951 to 1954, if the player with the highest average in a league failed to meet the minimum at-bat requirement, the remaining at-bats until qualification (e.g., five at-bats, if the player finished the season with 395 at-bats) were hypothetically considered hitless at-bats; if his recalculated batting average still topped the league, he was awarded the title. This standard applied in the AL from 1936 to 1956.
  • 1957 to the present – A player has needed 3.1 plate appearances per team game originally scheduled; thus, players were no longer penalized for walking so frequently, nor did they benefit from walking so rarely. (In 1954, for example, Ted Williams batted .345 but had only 386 ABs, while topping the AL with 136 walks. Williams thus lost the batting title to Cleveland's Bobby Ávila, who hit .341 in 555 ABs.) In the 154-game schedule, the required number of plate appearances was 477, and since the era of the 162-game schedule, the requisite number of plate appearances has been 502. Adjustments to this figure have been made during strike-shortened seasons, such as 1972, 1981, 1994, and 1995.

From 1967 to the present, if the player with the highest average in a league fails to meet the minimum plate-appearance requirement, the remaining at-bats until qualification (e.g., five at-bats, if the player finished the season with 497 plate appearances) are hypothetically considered hitless at-bats; if his recalculated batting average still tops the league, he is awarded the title. This is officially Rule 10.22(a), but it is also known as the Tony Gwynn rule because the Padres' player won the batting crown in 1996 with a .353 average on just 498 plate appearances (i.e., he was four shy). Gwynn was awarded the title since he would have led the league even if he'd gone 0-for-4 in those missing plate appearances. His average would have dropped to .349, five points better than second-place Ellis Burks' .344.[15] In 2012, a one-time amendment to the rule was made to disqualify Melky Cabrera from the title. Cabrera requested that he be disqualified after serving a suspension that season for a positive testosterone test. He had batted .346 with 501 plate appearances, and the original rule would have awarded him the title over San Francisco Giants teammate Buster Posey, who won batting .336.[16][17]

All-time leaders

Major League Baseball

Different sources of baseball records present somewhat differing lists of career batting average leaders. There is consensus that Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby lead this category, at number one and number two, respectively. Further rankings vary by source, primarily due to differences in minimums needed to qualify (number of games played or plate appearances), or differences in early baseball records. The below table presents the top ten lists as they appear in four well-known sources, with the rankings and degree of precision (decimal places) as provided in the source. The main article linked above is sourced from, which is also presented here. None of the players listed below are still living; each is an inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the exception of Lefty O'Doul, Pete Browning, and Shoeless Joe Jackson (who is ineligible due to his alleged role in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919).[3] Baseball Almanac[18] ESPN[19][20]
Rank Player Average Rank Player Average Rank Player Average Rank Player Average
1 Ty Cobb .3662 1 Ty Cobb .36636 1 Ty Cobb .366 1 Ty Cobb .367
2 Rogers Hornsby .3585 2 Rogers Hornsby .35850 2 Rogers Hornsby .358 2 Rogers Hornsby .358
3 Shoeless Joe Jackson .3558 3 Shoeless Joe Jackson .35575 3 Shoeless Joe Jackson .356 3 Ed Delahanty .346
4 Lefty O'Doul .3493 4 Ed Delahanty .34590 4 Ed Delahanty .346 4 Tris Speaker .345
5 Ed Delahanty .3458 5 Tris Speaker .34468 5 Tris Speaker .345 5 Ted Williams .344
6 Tris Speaker .3447 6 Ted Williams .34441 6 Billy Hamilton .344 6 Billy Hamilton .344
7 Billy Hamilton .3444 7 Billy Hamilton .34429 Ted Williams .344 7 Dan Brouthers .342
Ted Williams .3444 8 Babe Ruth .34206 8 Dan Brouthers .342 8 Babe Ruth .342
9 Dan Brouthers .3424 9 Harry Heilmann .34159 Harry Heilman .342 9 Harry Heilman .342
10 Babe Ruth .3421 10 Pete Browning .34149 Babe Ruth .342 10 Willie Keeler .341

Nippon Professional Baseball

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Nori Aoki is the NPB career batting average leader.

In Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the leader in career batting average is Nori Aoki, an active player who has hit .329 in his NPB career through April 2019.[21] Aoki played in MLB from 2012 to 2017, where he compiled a .285 average.[22] Ichiro Suzuki batted .353 in NPB,[23] but does not have enough career at-bats to qualify for that league's title.

See also


  1. ^ Schiff, Andrew (2008). "Henry Chadwick". SABR. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "MLB Single-Season (Post-1900) Batting Leaders". ESPN. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Career Leaders & Records for Batting Average". Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  4. ^ Dittmar, Joe. "Bill Bergen". SABR. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Single Season Leaders for Batting Average". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Axisa, Mike (September 29, 2018). "Chris Davis finishes 2018 with the worst batting average in MLB history after Orioles shut him down". CBS Sports. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Reiter, Ben (June 4, 2012). "Death, Taxes And Adam Dunn". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Batting Average Records". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Major League Baseball Batting Year-by-Year Averages". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  10. ^ Landers, Chris (May 22, 2018). "How did Mario Mendoza become a shorthand for batting futility?". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Thorn, John (May 4, 2015). "Why Is the National Association Not a Major League … and Other Records Issues". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  12. ^ Keith, Ted (July 9, 2012). "The Perfect Game". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via
  13. ^ "Year-by-Year League Leaders for Batting Average". Sports Reference, Inc. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  14. ^ "Leaderboard Glossary – Baseball". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  15. ^ Kovacevic, Dejan (August 16, 2012). "Can't crown cheating Cabrera". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  16. ^ "Cabrera, Posey are MVPs". The State. Associated Press. 16 November 2012. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  17. ^ Baggarly, Andrew. "Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown". CSN Bay Area. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Career Leaders for Batting Average". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  19. ^ "MLB Career Batting Leaders". ESPN. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  20. ^ "Statistics". Retrieved May 29, 2019. All-Time Totals, sorted by AVG
  21. ^ "Aoki, Norichika". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  22. ^ "Nori Aoki". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  23. ^ Lutz, Eric (March 21, 2019). "Ichiro Suzuki Retires at 45: Inside His Stats, Teams, and Legendary MLB Career". Men's Health. Retrieved April 28, 2019.

External links

Batting average

Batting average is a statistic in cricket, baseball, and softball that measures the performance of batsmen in cricket and batters in baseball and softball. The development of the baseball statistic was influenced by the cricket statistic.

Clay Perry (baseball)

Clayton Shields Perry (December 18, 1881 – January 13, 1954) was a Major League Baseball player who played in seven games for the Detroit Tigers in 1908. Born in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Perry attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In his seven games in the major leagues, Perry played third base and had 2 hits in 17 at-bats for a .118 batting average.

Doug Saunders (baseball)

Douglas Long "Doug" Saunders (born December 13, 1969 in Yorba Linda, California) is a former Major League Baseball player. Saunders played for the New York Mets in the 1993 season. In 28 games, Saunders had 14 hits in 67 at-bats, with a .209 batting average.

Jake Stenzel

Jacob Charles Stenzel (June 24, 1867 – January 6, 1919) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a center fielder in Major League Baseball from 1890 to 1899 for the Chicago Colts, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Browns / Perfectos, and Cincinnati Reds. Stenzel was 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 168 pounds (76 kg).

List of Major League Baseball career batting average leaders

In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and pronounced as if it were multiplied by 1,000: a player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." A point (or percentage point) is understood to be .001 . If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken to more than three decimal places.

Outfielder Ty Cobb, whose career ended in 1928, has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. He batted .366 over 24 seasons, mostly with the Detroit Tigers. In addition, he won a record 11 batting titles for leading the American League in BA over the course of an entire season. He batted over .360 in 11 consecutive seasons from 1909 to 1919. Rogers Hornsby has the second highest BA of all-time, at .358. He won seven batting titles in the National League (NL) and has the highest NL average in a single season since 1900, when he batted .424 in 1924. He batted over .370 in six consecutive seasons.Shoeless Joe Jackson is the only other player to finish his career with a batting average over .350. He batted .356 over 13 seasons before he was permanently suspended from organized baseball in 1921 for his role in the Black Sox Scandal. Lefty O'Doul first came to the major leagues as a pitcher, but after developing a sore arm, he converted to an outfielder and won two batting titles. The fifth player on the list, and the last with at least a .345 BA, is Ed Delahanty. Delahanty's career was cut short when he fell into the Niagara Falls and died during the 1903 season.The last player to bat .400 in a season, Ted Williams, ranks tied for seventh on the all-time career BA list. Babe Ruth hit for a career .342 average and is tenth on the list. A player must have a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances in order to qualify for the list.

List of Major League Baseball players with a .400 batting average in a season

In baseball, batting average (AVG) is a measure of a batter's success rate in achieving a hit during an at bat, and is calculated by dividing a player's hits by his at bats. The achievement of a .400 batting average in a season is recognized as "the standard of hitting excellence", in light of how batting .300 in a season is already regarded as solid. Twenty players have recorded a batting average of at least .400 in a single Major League Baseball (MLB) season as of 2018, the last being Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox in 1941. Three players – Ed Delahanty, Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby – have accomplished the feat in three different seasons, and no player has ever hit over .440, a single-season record established by Hugh Duffy in 1894. Ross Barnes was the first player to bat .400 in a season, posting a .429 batting average in the National League's inaugural 1876 season.In total, 20 players have reached the .400 mark in MLB history and five have done so more than once. Of these, ten were right-handed batters, nine were left-handed, and one was a switch hitter, meaning he could bat from either side of the plate. Two of these players (Terry and Williams) played for only one major league team. The Philadelphia Phillies are the only franchise to have four players reach the milestone while on their roster: Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson, and Tuck Turner, all of whom attained a batting average over .400 during the 1894 season. Three players won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in the same year as their .400 season. Tip O'Neill, Nap Lajoie, and Hornsby are the only players to have earned the Triple Crown alongside achieving a .400 batting average, leading their respective leagues in batting average, home runs and runs batted in (RBI). Although Shoeless Joe Jackson's .408 batting average in 1911 did not earn him the American League's batting title, it established a major league record for a rookie that stands to this day. Fred Dunlap has the lowest career batting average among players who have batted .400 in a season with .292, while Cobb – with .366 – recorded the highest career average in major league history.Due to the 75 years that have elapsed since Williams became the last player to achieve the feat and the integral changes to the way the game of baseball is played since then – such as the increased utilization of specialized relief pitchers – a writer for The Washington Post called the mark "both mystical and unattainable". Consequently, modern day attempts to reach the hallowed mark by Rod Carew (.388 in 1977), George Brett (.390 in 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season) have generated considerable hype among fans and in the media. Of the seventeen players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame who have batted .400 in a season, fourteen have been elected and two were elected on the first ballot. Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they have played in at least 10 MLB seasons, and have either been retired for five seasons or deceased for at least six months. These requirements leave two players ineligible – Barnes and Turner – who did not play in at least 10 seasons. Shoeless Joe Jackson is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because he was permanently banned from baseball in 1921 for his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal.

List of Major League Baseball single-season records

This is a list of single-season records in Major League Baseball.


M (named em ) is the thirteenth letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Tip O'Neill (baseball)

James Edward "Tip" O'Neill (May 25, 1858 – December 31, 1915) was a Canadian professional baseball player from approximately 1875 to 1892. He began playing organized baseball in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, and later played ten seasons in Major League Baseball, principally as a left fielder, but also as a pitcher, for four major league clubs.

While playing with the St. Louis Browns (later renamed the Cardinals) from 1884 to 1889, O'Neill helped the club compile a 516–247 record while also winning four pennants and the 1886 World Series. O'Neill won two American Association batting championships during those years and became the second person in major league history to hit for a triple crown, leading the league in 1887 with a .435 batting average, 14 home runs and 123 runs batted in (RBIs). He also rewrote the major league record book, establishing new records in at least eight categories, including the highest batting average (originally .492, adjusted to .435), on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.691), and the most hits (225), runs scored (167), doubles (52), extra base hits (84), and total bases (357) in a single season. His adjusted .435 batting average in 1887 remains the second highest in major league history.

O'Neill has been dubbed "Canada's Babe Ruth" and was posthumously inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Each year since 1984, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has presented the Tip O'Neill Award to the best Canadian baseball player.

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